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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
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By ESPN Staff

Marseille hit back after Atletico accusations

MADRID, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Olympique Marseille chairman Pape Diouf on Friday rejected Spanish police reports that the French club's fans were responsible for causing the crowd disturbances at Atletico Madrid's Calderon stadium earlier this month.

The Champions League Group D match, which Atletico won 2-1, was marred by violent scenes just before kickoff when police moved into the section occupied by the visiting fans.

"According to the Spanish police our fans started the hostilities. If this were true, whey didn't they arrest 15 or 20, instead of just one," Diouf told Spanish TV station La Sexta.

"One person cannot cause so many problems. He would have had to be Tarzan or Zorro to have done that.

"The Marseille fans were victims of the police. The first thing that should have happened was that (the police) should have spoken to UEFA, then to Atletico and to us."

Spanish police had said in a statement its officers "acted correctly and with proportion in all moments, and reacted in the necessary manner against the violent behaviour of the French fans."

On Tuesday, UEFA ordered Atletico to play their next two Champions League home matches at least 300 km from the Spanish capital, because of the disturbances.

They added that the punishment could be extended to a third home match should there be further trouble at the Calderon within a five-year probationary period.

"Atletico were charged with a lack of organisation during the Marseille match, which led to crowd incidents, and for the improper conduct of their supporters," UEFA said.

Atletico were fined 150,000 euros ($202,000) and coach Javier Aguirre was handed a two-match touchline ban in Europe.

On Thursday, the punishments were temporarily lifted to allow Atletico to host Liverpool in the Champions League next Wednesday, after protests from both clubs that it would affect too many fans' travel plans at such short notice.

Atletico have a full appeal hearing on Oct 31.

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